A sentence handed down in the case of a notorious murderer in Cambodia, however, just boggles the mind. He goes by the name of Duch. He was responsible for the murder of an estimated 14,000 Cambodians in a prison that once was the home of a school, Tuol Sleng. It sits in the heart of Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. I have a bit of a personal interest in this matter. I’ve visited Tuol Sleng twice — once in 1989 and again in 2004. The testimony to the brutality that occurred there is as stark and horrifying as anything I’ve ever seen. Indeed, it is eclipsed only by the killing fields I’ve toured on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, where the Khmer Rouge buried their victims in mass graves.
A U.N.-back tribunal gave Duch a 19-year sentence for his role in the Khmer Rouge’s brutal genocide against Cambodians. It actually sentenced him to 35 years in the slammer, but knocked 16 years off the sentence for “time served” while awaiting trial.
Duch has become a born-again Christian and proclaimed extreme remorse and regret for his role in the killings. Does that sound familiar? It should. Again, Texas has heard many condemned inmates declare their innocence and their discovery of God’s grace — only to have their lives snuffed out by the executioner.
Well, Duch deserved at least as severe a punishment for his role in the torture and murder of Cambodians, many of them children.
The Khmer Rouge butchered Cambodians from 1975 to 1979. Then armed forces from Vietnam invaded Cambodia, revealing to the world what had been suspected all along — that the Khmer Rogue, led by Pol Pot, had been systematically eliminating millions of innocent victims.
And now we have a gross injustice in the shamefully light sentence granted one of the worst of Pol Pot’s goons. What a disgrace.